What is the use you may ask – what is the benefit of gratitude?
It is so easy to take the good things for granted. I turned my life around when I stopped focusing on what I didn’t have and started appreciating the positive things I did have.
Why practice gratitude?
Research has repeatedly demonstrated that we are hard-wired to focus on problems as a self-preservation reflex. Focusing on problems creates stress. Stress and anxiety cause the body to release adrenalin and testosterone, which eventually leads to illness. We therefore have to make a deliberate decision to practice changing this reflex.
Focusing on gratitude floods your body with oxytocin, acetylcholine and other feel-good, calming and relaxing agents. “Hormones are emotions, and emotions are hormones”. So when your body is flooded with happy hormones you feel great.
Scientific research shows why
Concentrating on the positive things we do have in life, instead of the negative things, will tend to amplify the positive, bringing in more and more positive things into our life!
Scientific research has successfully demonstrated that gratitude is linked with feelings of reward and appreciation, increasing happiness. Also, exuding the trait of appreciation stimulates positive emotions, such as being energetic, helpful, more hopeful, forgiving and empathetic. It counteracts depression or resentment.
Several studies have demonstrated what is the benefit of gratitude:
- People with an “attitude of gratitude” are in better physical health, sleep better, and spend more time exercising (Now the New Science of Gratitude can Make You Happier by McCullough and Emmons).
- Those who have an “attitude of gratitude” have lower levels of stress hormones (cortisol) in their blood (Integrative Physiological & Behavioral Science).
- Practicing an “attitude of gratitude” reverses the cardiovascular effects of negative emotions (The Undoing Effect of Positive Emotions, Motivation and Emotion).
The benefits of appreciation
- It improves your relationship with yourself.
- It improves your relationships with others.
- We become healthier.
- It makes us more optimistic.
- We become less materialistic.
- We become less self-centered.
- Increases self-esteem.
- Improved sleep.
- You feel and look good.
- It increases energy levels.
- It increases productivity and goal achievement.
- You to live longer.
- It makes you happy!
Five LITTLE things you can do for BIG changes
- 1. Keep a journal and jot down 5 things you appreciate in your life every day.
- 2. Show your appreciation towards others more often.
- 3. Give more compliments.
- 4. Say thank you more often.
- 5. Smile!
Highly recommended books to read:
- Thanks! Now the new science of gratitude can make you happier by Robert A. Emmons.
- Positivity: Groundbreaking research reveals how to embrace the hidden strength of positive emotions, overcome negativity and thrive by Barbara L. Fredrickson.